How Coronavirus Lockdown Has Been Affecting Our Dogs
Coronavirus lockdowns started across the country in March, taking many people by surprise. This difficult and traumatic time has provided one good thing to dogs and their families though. They are able to spend more time together. Most pups seem to be overjoyed to have their parents home for the majority of the day, and the feeling is mutual. Pet parents are finding great comfort and companionship in their dogs in a time that such intimate bonding is scarce. However, there are still some disruptions in life at home having everyone together all the time. Here are the real experiences of six pet parents during this surreal experience.
Heath and Daisy
Photo credits Sam Lovitt
Sam has been sheltering alone in his New Orleans apartment, but on the weekends he gets to go home and see his pups, Heath and Daisy in Mississippi. “Heath knew pretty quickly that things weren’t normal, he’s smart. Daisy is older and she figured it out once I started coming home more often. My parents were home more and I think that made them happier. They go on more walks now because there is less for us humans to do.” While Sam has been coming home to visit more often than usual, he mentioned that it’s hard for the dogs once he leaves. Heath suffers from anxiety, and now that they’re used to family members being home, the dogs are overwhelmed when the family leaves.
Going home to see his dogs is one of the things Sam looks forward to the most every week. “A human has all these presumptuous judgments of a person,” he says “but a dog believes in you. My dad always said ‘If I’m half the person my dog thinks I am, then I’ll be okay.’ The bond between a dog and a human is powerful, but so simple. It’s the definition of unconditional love.”
Sam’s favorite thing about visiting his dogs:
The excited dance they do when he comes home and the way they follow him around the house when he walks around.
Santa Monica, California
Photo credits: Caroline Jusko
Caroline is a high school student sheltering at home with her parents and her dog, Bentley. According to Caroline, Bentley is doing great and absolutely loves the attention.
“I think he is much happier having us around all the time and he doesn’t understand what a virus is, so he couldn’t care less about the reason we’re all home now” Caroline says. “It’s been great being quarantined with him, he makes me happy and I love playing with him. He’s a friend I can still hang out with” Caroline explains.
Bentley is a more antisocial dog. He barks a lot and suffers from anxiety, so Caroline and her family used to take him to a field behind an elementary school that was empty on weekends. Now that it’s closed, they can’t take him anymore.
What Caroline looks forward to after the lockdown:
Going back to the field behind the school again to play with Bentley.
Buddy and Blue
Westfield, New Jersey
Photo credits Emma Wolynez
Emma is a college student home because of the coronavirus with her dogs, Buddy and Blue. Her dogs are getting older – Buddy is ten years old and Blue is seven. Buddy has slowed down due to his age and isn’t able to take long walks, go to dog parks, or have doggy play dates anymore so he is less affected by the changes than Blue. “My younger dog has been loving having my brother and I home from college and it’s been really sweet waking up to her… she runs into my room every day and wakes me up with kisses” Emma says. “I don’t think they know anything is up, but they’re definitely enjoying having us home from college.
Emma is grateful for this time with her dogs but mentions that it’s hard to watch them get old. “Being in lockdown with the dogs has been nice but also sad, with my older dog it’s sad because when I came back, I realized how old he was. He’s a wonderful dog, and seeing him like that and wondering how much time is left is tough.”
The hardest part of being home with dogs:
Having to miss some of their walks because of online classes.
Foster City, California
Photo credits Stephanie Morrison
Stephanie is sheltering at home with her husband, two kids, and her favorite child – the dog. “My dog probably realized after week two that everyone was home and not going out daily as was the regular routine. She is thrilled to have everyone home and we have quickly established a routine where she goes upstairs ‘to work’ with me and sleeps on a blanket on the floor next to me all day with visitors (the rest of the family) stopping by routinely to pet her,” Stephanie says. The main changes for Penny have been longer walks and not being able to get close to other pups and people to say “hello!” because of social distancing.
Stephanie is extremely happy to have Penny’s companionship and jokes that she is her coworker. “It is very calming to have the dog and it has helped me feel more grounded and stable during these challenging and uncertain times. How can you not smile when you can just reach down and pet your dog? I would say it’s great bonding time and not at all challenging. Needing to walk the dog forces me out of the house each and every day – which means I have to get dressed even if it is just leggings.”
Stephanie is looking forward to her and Penny being able to greet friends during their walks once this is all over. It’s hard for Penny because she “just wants to say hi to everyone and doesn’t understand why no one can pet her.”
What Stephanie is worried about after lockdown ends:
How Penny will handle all the alone time after having the family home so much.
Archie and Lucy
Los Angeles, California
Photo credits Daisy Kaplan
Daisy is a high school student home from school with her younger sister and her parents. Daisy mentioned that it hasn’t been much of a change for her pups since both have social anxiety and are usually unable to make friends with other dogs so they don’t go to dog parks or have doggy playdates. However, she has noticed Lucy being lazier with everybody being home and Archie has been needing more attention and care.
While the dogs like that the family is home, they are sad not to be able to spend all the time together because Daisy is at school for much of the day and having them in the room is too much of a distraction. “Archie is constantly pawing at my door and crying because I am in class and not spending time with her… At the same time, I’m still spending more time with her than before and we are now incredibly close. Every morning, she wakes me up with a ‘lick attack.’”
What Daisy is looking forward to once the lookdown ends:
Her dogs will be able to meet the new puppy her next-door neighbors adopted.
Quick note to pet parents: While all this extra time that pets and their families get to spend together is a blessing, many dog trainers are worried about pups experiencing separation anxiety after lockdown ends. Due to the constant interaction, pets might not be prepared to start spending time apart from their people. While this tip is not possible for everybody and could be emotionally difficult to do, dog experts recommend that pet parents spend at least half an hour a day away from their dogs so that they aren’t overwhelmed by the empty house when their families start going back to work and school1. This can be as simple as going on a walk without them or even just closing your door for an hour.
We love hearing from all of you and would love to chat more about how you and your fur babies have been doing during this time. We’d love to do a Part 2 and feature more of our Holi family. Please send your stories and pictures of your pups to [email protected]. Stay safe and hope to see you all soon! 2
- Contributions to this blog by Dori Kaplan